This year, whether it had tribunes only or B.C. 443 tribunes succeeded by consuls, was followed by one [p. 285]
which had consuls about whom there is no question.1
These were Marcus Geganius Macerinus, for the second time, and Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, for the fifth time.
This same year saw the adoption of the censorship, an institution which originated in a small way but afterwards grew to such dimensions that it was invested with the regulation of the morals and discipline of the Romans. The distribution of honour and ignominy amongst the senate and the centuries of the knights was controlled by this magistracy, while jurisdiction over public and private sites, together with the revenues of the Roman People, were entirely subject to its discretion.
What first gave rise to the office was this: the people had not been rated for many years and the census could not be postponed; yet the consuls, when so many nations threatened war, had no time for this work.
The subject was brought up in the senate, where it was held that the task, which was a laborious one and beneath the dignity of a consul, required its own proper magistrates, who should have a staff of clerks, assume the custody of the records, and regulate the form of the census.
The senators, though it was a small matter, nevertheless gladly welcomed the suggestion, in order that there might be more patrician magistracies in the administration of the state. They thought even then, I imagine, as afterwards proved to be the case, that it would not be long before the consequence of those who held the office would lend authority and dignity to the office itself.
The tribunes also, regarding it as a necessary rather than a showy service, as in those days it actually was, did not hold out against the plan, lest they [p. 287]
might seem to be vexatiously obstinate even in2
The principal men in the state scorned the office, and the taking of the census was, by the votes of the people, committed to Papirius and Sempronius (whose consulship is questioned), that they might round out their incomplete year of office with this magistracy. They were called censors from their function.